Friday, August 7, 2020

Video Poem: A fly's freedom

I was inspired to write this when I was catching a fly to release outside. My usual technique is to isolate the fly in the room I am in (easy when I'm in my bedroom using my laptop), and then open the curtains on the window, or the window itself so that fresh air comes in. The fly's deepest longing (if I judge by behavior), is to be outside. It will fly to that window even though it is closed, and spend its time there.

The fly doesn't understand how the human world works, and is just trying to do what it knows best. It's actually doing the wrong thing sometimes by staying near the window. If there's a door open somewhere else in the house, it should just find the door and fly out the house. But it doesn't know any better, and just thinks (or acts like it thinks): the appearance of freedom shows where you get freedom.

Sometimes this leads to the death of flies. I used to kill flies when I saw them on the window, rather than catch them and release them. So in that version of the human environment, the desire for freedom, seeking it the best way the flies knew how, led to death. They should have increased their intelligence and flown nearby the front door, so that they could slip out whenever the humans opened it.

But because I am actually a good person with respect to the fly's desire for life and freedom, the environment that I create makes it so that when the fly, unjustified though it may be in assuming this, thinks (or "thinks"), "I will go toward freedom -- it's right there, I can see it -- I can smell the fresh air -- somehow that's the way out", it's actually a trustworthy move for the fly to make, in ways that it does not understand.

I approach the fly with a small glass cup and put the cup over the area on the window or screen that the fly is on. The fly thinks the cup is prison, and it is. It takes off -- some flies more untrusting than others -- flies around inside the cup. Eventually, it lands on the inner surface of the cup long enough for me to quickly pick up the cup and put my hand over the opening. Now the fly is very much a prisoner, and is taken far away from the promise of freedom, through the rest of the house to the door.

I open the door and keep the fly inside its transport, and then step outside and close the door, so that if I release the fly it doesn't go straight back into the ultimately unwelcoming human environment. Then I take it down to the most favorable part of the back yard, near the compost heap, which I assume is where a fly would most like to be, and where I assume it is best to be a fly -- although flies are perfectly capable of getting around, to seek their own best environments. Then I let the fly go. Sometimes it takes a moment to grasp that it is free, or I help it out of the glass cup. And then it flies away.

Because the fly looks for freedom so predictably, I was able to capture and imprison it, and give it true freedom.

An MSLN view: we might have different intuitions about life depending on whether we find ourselves in the presence of a beneficent super-human environment (whatever is beyond human agency and/or our ability to sufficiently mentally grasp), or a negative one. The MSLN assumption is that we should adjust our priors in the direction that there is a being who would be inclined to help us, and might do so. And so if that is true, we should go toward freedom, like a fly trying to escape the spacious prison of a house.

No comments:

Post a Comment